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5 Dramatic Plans For Transforming the Banks of the LA River

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Counting down the days until the Army Corps of Engineers announce plans for the future of the concrete banks of the LA River? Tide yourself over until the big reveal by perusing some recently-completed design work imagining some brand new possibilities for the river. Landscape architecture firm SWA, which has an office in Downtown, recently wrapped up its summer internship program, which tasked interns from all over the country and the world with making an intense study of selected sites along the LA River.

According to Ying-Yu Hung, Managing Principal of SWA's Los Angeles office, the interns examined sites that haven't yet been subject to some of the repeated design exercises of, say, the Cornfields or the Piggyback Yards. Instead, the students strung together sites that reflect both the length and the breadth of land by the river. "The potential is just so immense from a landscape perspective. It connects these large parcels of open space, like Griffith Park, Dodger Stadium, and Elysian Park. That's a really exciting prospect to investigate," says Hung.

Students responded to that potential with visions for the river that included everything from a birder's paradise or a punk rocker's urban wasteland--the kind of variety that suits the major geographic and cultural shifts of the river basin (even given the constraints of the concrete banks that currently line most of the river's 41 miles). Some of the more radical ideas presented include work by Esther Korteweg, of Van Hall Larenstein in the Netherlands, who pitched floating houses arranged on a flood plain below Dodger Stadium. Different water levels would reconfigure the neighborhood and the location of houses would even change completely after a flood event. Another project, by Ian Mackay of Ohio State University, would create a vertical habitat serving as a proxy riparian zone for the many species of birds that visit or live along the LA River.

While the city's architects, engineers, and politicians might see the LA River as a long list of challenges, with huge costs and bureaucratic red tape standing in the way of visionary thinking, bringing students in from around the world will hopefully inspire the passion and imagination of the various interests working along the river every day.

And if you're still in the market for LA-River-inspired design creativity, tonight Metabolic Studios is holding an open house to introduce its big La Noria water wheel public art project.
· 3 Plans on the Table For Major LA River Revitalization [Curbed LA]
· New Plans For a Bike Path Along All 51 Miles of the LA River [Curbed LA]
· Huge Water Wheel Might Be Renewed River's Iconic Public Art [Curbed LA]